Friday, 27 February 2015

FAQ: What makes Options a Nonprofit?

Something we hear a lot from people who are't familiar with the Options model is that they don't understand how a condo developer can be a not-for profit company. See below for the definition of a nonprofit:
"The Nonprofit Handbook: Everything You Need to Know to Start and Run Your Nonprofit Organization" by Gary M. Grobman discusses a nonprofit as an organization that uses surplus revenues to achieve its goals rather than distributing them as profit. 

Options fits the definition of a non-profit because any surplus earned goes directly to future community development projects. Options for Homes goal is to provide cost-effective ownership opportunities to everyone in the world that wants it and all surplus funds go towards achieving that goal.

Options for Homes defers our profits and generates funds for future investments in affordable housing and other sustainable development projects through an approach called the Affordable Housing and Community Equity Reinvestment Technique (AHCERT). The key to this approach in the Options second mortgage, which Options retains on each unit until the original purchaser sells or rents out the suite.

All Options purchasers are eligible receive a down payment boost know as the Options Loan. The purchaser must have five per cent of the purchase price and Options will then facilitate a loan of up to 15 per cent of the purchase price. No payments are paid on the loan until the original purchasers sells or rents out their unit. At that time the loan appreciates by the same percentage as the condo. I.e. if the loan is worth 15 per cent of the original purchase price the purchaser will pay back 15 per cent of the sale price when they move.

Options defers its return on investment in a project until the individual units are sold. By deferring the profit Options is able to share in the market appreciation of the unit. For example, if the value of the second mortgage is $20,000, or 10 per cent of a $200,000 purchase price, Options will receive 10 per cent of the eventual selling price, which would be $30,000 if the unit is sold for $300,000. That additional $10,000 then goes into future community development projects.

The Options Loan provides the means that Options can recover the cost savings offered to purchasers during development and construction and reusing them eventually in the development of other sustainable development projects.

By offering the Options Loan we help purchasers get into ownership and by delaying the repayment until the purchasers sells or rents out their unit Options is able to share in the profit and allocate those funds to give more individuals the opportunity to get into ownership.

Options uses the repaid loans to pay it forward and create more cost-effective ownership opportunities for even more individuals and families.

Do you want to know anything about Options for Homes? Do you have a question you want answered in our blog? Tweet it to us @OptionsforHomes!

Monday, 23 February 2015

FAQ: Why is there condensation on the inside of my windows in the winter?

Winter condensation on windows is a growing problem in Canada.  This problem, believe it or not, occurs because homes are sealed better now against air leakage and natural ventilation to the outdoors is reduced compared to older homes.  In the past air would escape through window seals, now the air cannot escape and turns into condensation on windows and other parts of the home. 

Options condos, like most new homes, are very tightly sealed to prevent air leakage, drafts and to help conserve energy.  During the winter, when heat is turned on, this can contribute to an increase in condensation forming on the windows and other parts of the suite.

What causes window condensation in the winter?

Condensation forms when the warm, moist air within your home meets cooler surfaces (such as windows).  Imagine a glass with a cold beverage during the summer - we've all seen the condensation that forms of the outside of the glass - or when your glasses fog up when walking into a warm room from out in the cold.  The same principle can be applied to windows in the winter. 

Condensation problems arise because air can only hold a limited amount of water vapour - cold air is able to hold less water vapour than warm air. Air cooled by contact with cooler surfaces will therefore deposit water vapour on the glass.  Condensation is an indication of excess water vapour in the air.  

All homes are susceptible to occasional condensation.  There are the three most common times that condensation occurs:
  1. Condensation is especially present in newly build homes.  Gallons of water went into the concrete and other materials used to construct your new Options home.  As soon as the heat is turned on the moisture begins to seep out into the air.  The water slowly evaporates, therefore the moisture content in new homes is above normal.  Some construction materials can take up to a year to dry out naturally. 
  2. During humid summers your suite may absorb moisture.  This can be apparent during the first few weeks of heating in the fall/winter.
  3. Sudden drops in temperature can cause temporary condensation problems.
  4. Regular daily activities such as cooking, showering,drying clothes, even breathing, release huge amounts of moisture into the air. 
How does condensation affect my home?

Condensation can have a number of negative effects on your home.  Some of these include:
  • stained ceilings
  • water streaming from windows
  • mould on walls and windowsills
  • wallpaper or plaster damage 
The best way to prevent any of the above from occurring is to get rid of excess water vapour.

The Good News - You can do something about it 

Proper ventilation will promote the nature drying-out process which will allow everything in your home to adjust as steadily as possible.  You should not try to speed up the process by creating extremely high temperatures.  This will exaggerate the normal shrinkage that comes along with the nature process of drying out.

There are a few steps you can take to conquer condensation:

  • Open windows slightly - this solution will cost a bit more in heating but it is the easiest and cheapest way to solve the moisture problem.
  • Use exhaust fans and proper venting - installing (or using pre-existing) exhaust fans in high moisture areas of you home can help.
    • Bathroom exhaust fans should be used during every shower/bath and for at least 15 minutes afterwards. 
  • Heat Recovery Ventilators (HRVs), which can be found in most Options buildings, can retain most of the heat that you would normally lose through open windows and exhaust fans.  They extract 75-85 per cent of the heat out of stale, indoor air before exhausting it outdoors.  This saved heat is then transferred to a fresh stream of air coming into your home from outside. 
diagram sourced from:

Condensation on the inside of windows is completely normal, especially considering the cold temperatures we have been experiencing lately.  The good news is that there are many simple lifestyle changes that you can make to help solve this problem.

Do you have any questions about you want to ask Options?  Let us know and your question could be featured in our blog!


Friday, 20 February 2015

GUEST BLOG - Neighbourhood Sketch: The Beaches

The Beaches is a charming waterfront neighbourhood in Toronto’s east end, just 15 minutes from the city’s downtown core. Located on Queen Street East, between Coxwell and Victoria Park Avenue, the vibrancy of Queen Street blends with the relaxed shoreline, creating the unique atmosphere the Beaches is known for. The Queen Street East commercial district is home to a number of independent and family owned establishments, mixing vintage shops, restaurants, pubs and brand name stores.

Take a look at the 10 reasons why The Beaches is a great place to live!
1) The family-oriented community is home to nearly 22,000 residents; where 62% are from ages 25-64, pretty much all ages
2) The sandy shoreline is traced by a 3 km boardwalk, with bike and rollerblade paths perfect for summer strolls and workouts
3) Kew Gardens (in the Beaches) hosts the renowned International Jazz Festival, concerts, craft shows and exhibitions throughout the year
4) The beachfront features lush parks perfect for picnics, volleyball courts and a Olympic sized swimming pool free of charge
5) The neighbourhood is home to the acclaimed R.C. Harris Filtration plant, one of the best Art Deco architectural sites in Toronto
6) The close-knit community is kept in the loop with several local papers including the Beach-South Riverdale Town Crier and the Beach Metro Community News
7) Getting around the neighbourhood is convenient, both by foot and public transportation. The Beach has a walk score of 88 and has 6 bus lines and 3 light rail lines (including the Queen Streetcar line)
8) There are over 200 restaurants, bars, coffee shops in the neighbourhood for residents to enjoy, ranging from traditional Thai cuisine to English-style pub food
9) The beachfront enclave offers residents a break from the rush of city life, despite being a mere 25 minute streetcar ride from downtown Toronto
10) The Beach’s rich history is reflected by one of the four original Carnegie Libraries dating back to 1916
We’ve given you a brief snapshot of the charm and ease that The Beach is known for. Feel free to browse through TheRedPin’s resale listings and pre-construction condos in one of Toronto’s favourite summer spots.
Wondering about other Toronto beacheswe narrowed down the top 5 in the city.

Disclaimer: The views & opinions expressed in any guest blog featured on our site are those of the guest author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions & views of the Options Group of Companies community as a whole.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Add a Little Sunshine to Your Portfolio

Green Timiskaming is officially selling Northern Solar Bonds.  The bonds will finance a 250-kilowatt solar system to be installed at the Armstrong Township Arena in Earlton, Ontario and an additional nine 500-kilowatt projects in Chamberlain Township. 
Green Timiskaming Development Co-operative is controlled by 240 local citizen-members but anyone in Ontario can invest in these projects by purchasing Northern Solar Bonds offered by the co-operative.

Ambrose Raftis, the project manager for Green Timiskaming said:

“I am excited to announce that Green Timiskaming is offering Northern Solar Bonds to the public.  The bonds provide an attractive, stable return and allow Ontarians the opportunity to invest in solar.  Solar is a great way to meet the present and future energy needs of our communities.”

Check out this video that describes the social and economic benefits of Northern Solar Bonds:

Green Timiskaming was established in 2009 as a community-owned, not-for-profit development co-operative devoted to building a greener way of life for the people of Timiskaming.  Beginning with the development and operation of renewable energy projects Green Timiskaming aspires to make the region self-sustaining for energy production.  Options for Green Energy acts as the development consultant for Green Timiskaming.

Green Timiskaming offers attractive returns with relatively low risks.  Returns to members who invest in the 20 Year Term bonds will be five per cent for the first five years increasing every five years, for an average return of up to 7 percent over 20 years.  The minimum investment for 20-Year Bonds is $1,000.  Green Timiskaming also offers 5-Year Term bonds from five hundred dollars with a 4.5 per cent rate of return.

Each project is tied to a 20-year contract with Hydro One to purchase the power through the Government of Ontario's Feed in Tariff (FIT) program. The revenue generated by the contracts will be used to cover operating and finance costs including the returns on Northern Solar Bonds. The bonds will provide long-term financial benefits associated with the production of renewable energy.

Any surplus from the sale of electricity from the projects will be reinvested in future community development activities in Ontario. 

To download your FREE Northern Solar Bonds Investment Guide visit the Green Timiskaming website and follow Options for Green Energy on Twitter @OptionsforGreen for updates!

Friday, 13 February 2015

Melanie Loves a Lot of Things About Her Options Home

There are a long list of things that Melanie loves about her Options home! Check them out here:

That kind of enthusiasm and excitement about a home is not uncommon among Options owners.  The pride in knowing that you own your own home is a feeling that is common among owners because many never thought they would be able to own their own property.

Melanie can comfortably afford her home on one salary.  See her talk about what that feels like here:

Register for a FREE Information Session.  Even if owning a home seems impossible, trust us, and our thousands of homeowners who felt the same way before attending a session.  You have nothing to lose by learning more!

Monday, 2 February 2015

FAQ: What is a thermal meter?

New condos come with many features that many individuals have never heard of before.  One such item you will find in your Options condo is a thermal meter.  For anyone who is wondering what a thermal meter is, here is a brief explanation:

A thermal meter is installed inside each unit and measures the amount of heat added or removed from a space. A thermal calculator processes data that is collected through sensors and a flow meter. In multi-residential buildings (like Options for Homes condominiums) thermal meters are typically installed inside a fan coil or heat pump unit.

They are used for the measurement of energy used for the heating and cooling of individual units in buildings with central hydronic systems.

*diagram sourced from

The same company that installs the hydro meter would typically install the thermal meter at the same time. 

Do you want to know anything about Options for Homes? Do you have a question you want answered in our blog? Tweet it to us @OptionsforHomes!